Students at Falcon Early College High School are preparing their experiment for launch to the International Space Station this summer.
Elizabeth Gray, Falcon Early College High School AVID coordinator, has said the experiment looks at whether bacteria that degrades plastic will work the same way in microgravity as it does on Earth.
The 13 students who devised the experiment are called Atlas XIII. Gray said Atlas is a Greek god condemned to hold up the sky for eternity. The 13 comes from the number of students involved.
Gray said the launch date is June 9. Students are planning to go to Washington, D.C., this summer to attend the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program National Conference hosted by NCESSE and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
Students may be able to present on their experimental designs and attend featured presentations by nationally recognized scientists and engineers at the event.
A fundraiser is planned for March 8 at Chili’s restaurant at 5025 E. 42nd St. Chili’s will donate 15 percent of its sales that day to Atlas XIII @ Falcon.
Gray said three Falcon students called Chili’s, asked about having a fundraiser and a meeting was set up.
“We all went and got it scheduled from there. They did it all. I didn’t do anything,” Gray said.
The goal is to raise $35,000 to pay for the students and seven chaperones’ travel to Washington, D.C.
Depending on how the March 8 fundraiser goes, Gray said there could be others there. She added that the manager of Chili’s offered to pay for their food while they are in D.C.
Meanwhile, the students are in the beginning phases of working on the experiment.
“Hopefully, in the next few weeks we’ll start actually growing the bacteria and making the media and really trying out the experiment,” Gray said.
Damien Galindo, a 16-year-old sophomore and president of Atlas XIII, said things are going smoothly and progressing faster and faster. He added that he’s excited about the upcoming launch.
“I can’t wait to watch it on the news and hear feedback from the astronauts up there about how the bacteria are doing and how it’s responding,” Galindo said.
Fifteen-year-old sophomore Juan Mendoza agreed that things are going smoothly and he’s also anticipating the launch.
“I think it’s pretty cool because it’s close to my birthday …,” Mendoza said.
He added that he and his peers are privileged to have this opportunity and he urges everyone to come out and support them March 8.